Social Media: A Hands-On Discussion

Why are we scared of Social Media
in our schools?
Why do we need a policy?
Does it need to be slanted toward a
specific technology?
Are we trying to prevent a behavior?
Are trying to change a behavior?
Do we already have a policy?
District 401 policies
1. Examine Your School Culture
◦ When setting out on this journey, it is important
to understand the prevailing beliefs about social
media in your community.
Questions for Reflection:
◦ How are social media products currently being
used by students? By teachers? By administrators
and parents? How can they be leveraged for
better communication?
◦ What are the fears around social media in school?
◦ Are there any "bright spots" where social media is
already being used successfully?
2. Organize a Team
Questions for Reflection
◦ This team should include educators who use social media in the
classroom and those who do not. A district that I worked with
recently chose to have a teacher and administrative representative
from each grade level in the district, along with their heads of
instruction and technology, school attorney, and two student
representatives. You have to find a combination that works.
◦ This team should be open and transparent in all their
conversations and decision making, and be clear about their
shared goal. Establish a website or webpage for the posting of
notes, resources, and minutes from the meetings.
◦ Does everyone on the team share the same goal?
◦ Is everyone committed to transparency?
◦ What is your time frame?
3. Research Phase
Questions for Reflection:
◦ Your team should begin by evaluating the current policies that are
already in place in your school or district. Many districts already
have policies in place that cover the acceptable use basics -- so
they only need to add guidelines to help crystallize learning
opportunities. Because the social media landscape changes
quickly, this is often the best approach.
◦ Next, the team will want to examine the social media policies
and/or guidelines from other institutions. You will want to involve
your school attorney in the draft process to make sure that you
are within your current local and state policies.
◦ Which policies or guidelines would make sense for you to adapt?
◦ How should you use the feedback from your community to shape
your decision making?
4. Draft Your Document and Incorporate Feedback
Questions for Reflection
◦ Now your team will take all the information you've gathered
and create a document. This can be the most challenging
part of the process and you can expect many drafts and
◦ One district that I worked with posted their drafts to a
school wiki, where anyone on the team could contribute.
There were also opportunities for other teachers,
administrators, and students to make comments or bring
up other items for consideration.
◦ Schedule meetings to talk to school staff, administrators,
parents, and community members face-to-face.
◦ How will you make your drafts available to the community?
◦ How much input do you want?
◦ Should you set limits to prevent overload?
Make Sure the School Attorney and School
Board See the Draft
◦ Your school attorney will ensure that you are not
violating any current policies, laws, or ordinances.
Your school board might want to review your
document, and if you are changing policy, they will
want to discuss and take a vote.
Questions for Reflection
◦ Does the document violate any current policies,
laws, or ordinances?
◦ What do you need to do to get buy-in from your
school board?
6. Introduction to the School Community
Questions for Reflection:
◦ Now that all stakeholders have signed off on your policy
or guidelines, it's time to roll it out to your greater
community. Every member of your team should be
tasked with talking to specific groups and/or schools.
Take the time to educate your students, faculty, staff,
parents, and community about what the document
means to them. If you have been open and transparent
from the beginning, this will be an easy step.
◦ How will you introduce the policy or guidelines to your
community? Will you hold meetings at all schools? Send
◦ Do any major themes emerge in your community's
◦ What will you do if the guidelines are not well received?
7. Review Periodically
◦ Your new policy or guidelines should be a living
document and should be revisited often. Social
media products change. Your culture will change.
Policies will change. Your team needs to look at
your document at least annually to determine
whether it is working and whether any adjustments
need to be made.
The following are some resources on
establishing social media policy and/or
The following are some resources on establishing social media policy
and/or guidelines.
Creating Social Media Guidelines (2) (Edutopia): In this blog, I shared how one school in my
district created a set of social media guidelines for students and teachers.
8 Social Media Strategies For Your Classroom (3) (Getting Smart): A great overview of the
various social media platforms, their strengths, and how to use them to engage students
Acceptable Use Policies in the Web 2.0 and Mobile Era (2) (CoSN): This document explains how
schools can keep students safe.
Social Media Best Practices (3) (Tufts University): This document shows how higher education
institutions support the use of social media.
Pottsville Area School District Social Media Policy (4) -- PDF Download: This is an example of a
stricter school district policy.
Policy #470: Employee Use of Social Media (5) -- PDF Download (Minnetonka Public Schools):
Here is an example of an official school district social media policy.
Best Practices for Social Media Usage in North Carolina (6) -- PDF Download (NC Office of
Governor): These guidelines describe how government agencies should use social media.
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools Social Media Best Practices (7) (Web 2.0 Classroom):
Sample guidelines for the promotion and use of social media products by students and staff.
Online Database of Social Media Policies (8) (Social Media Governance): Preview social media
policies from various industries. Be sure to check "General Guidelines and Templates" for some
useful downloads.
Social Media and Two-Way Communication (2) (Connected Principals):
Make the case for integrating social media into your school community.
Web 2.0 as a Force for School Transformation: A Tale of Six Districts -PDF Download (3) (Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)): This
executive summary can help you discover what other schools are doing.
Is Social Media Right for Your District? (4) (Sungard: K-12 Education
Blog): This blog shares questions for educational leaders considering
social media for their districts.
How Schools Are Using Social Media -- Infographic (5) (SocialTimes): Get
statistics on classroom use and professional development.
Schools Use Social Media to Communicate With Students, Parents (6)
(Tulsa World): A case study on how one district in Texas uses social
Ten Ways Schools Are Using Social Media Effectively (7) (eSchool News):
Educators from across the country share how they use social media.